Minister of National Security Marvin Dames said yesterday the government intends to debate and pass the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Bill, 2017, before the end of the year.
In September 2017, the bill was tabled in the House of Assembly.
However, nearly two years later, there has been no movement on it.
Speaking to reporters at police headquarters, Dames said, “We hope that it will become a reality this year. We’re committed to it.
“We wanted to ensure that that bill was a bill that we could live with, that the Bahamian people could live with and so it was put out there.
“We want to ensure at the end of the day that it does exactly what we would want it to do, which is to ensure that we keep our people safe and we build a robust intelligence regime that will do exactly that.”
He said the government wants a bill “that will protect us against money laundering, cyber-related issues, gun and drug crimes, human trafficking, and the like”.
Asked if it is likely that the bill will be debated and passed this quarter, the minister said, “Well, it’s possible.”
Upon coming to office, the government disbanded the NIA, which had been in operation for five years under the Christie administration without legislation to govern it.
The Christie administration repeatedly promised to bring a bill to govern the NIA, but failed to do so.
The National Intelligence Agency Bill, 2017 proposes to establish an agency of the government that would be responsible for gathering intelligence that impacts the security of The Bahamas.
The objectives of the agency would be to coordinate intelligence gathering and joint strategic planning among various law enforcement agencies and government departments, so as to “ensure a more effective campaign against crime”.
The agency would also collect, by investigation or otherwise, “information and intelligence respecting activities that may on reasonable grounds be suspected of constituting threats to the security of The Bahamas”.
According to the bill, the agency would be under the control of a director, a position appointed by the governor general, acting on the advice of the prime minister.
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